One month before the most vicious round of intra-Palestinian fighting in Gaza, Lieutenant General Keith Dayton, the American security coordinator in the Israeli-Palestinian arena, testified before Congress, seeking to justify American intervention on the side of Fatah using the terms that have grown familiar over years of Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy. He explained that the United States sought to back the legal presidential security forces—who were working to meet Palestinian obligations under the Road Map—against the forces of disorder. The statement may have made sense according to some logic followed in the US capital, but it was utterly disconnected from realities in the region.
Fatah—as much if not more than Hamas—bears deep responsibility for the deepening chaos in Palestinian society. And American policy has deepened that chaos in some fundamental and absolutely deliberate ways. There is no peace process for Hamas and Fatah to fight over. The Road Map was already anachronistic when it was announced in 2003 and is pursued seriously now by none of the concerned parties. Even General Dayton’s description of the legal situation was simply wrong: the Palestinian constitution was amended in 2003 at American insistence to make internal security a cabinet and not a presidential responsibility. While officials spoke of peace and order, American policy in effect—and sometimes by design—supported the political disintegration of Palestinian society and the slide toward civil war.
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